5 Questions for the 2023 CHIRBy Awards Finalists, Part II – Chicago Review of Books


In anticipation of the 2023 Chicago Review of Books (CHIRBy) Awards ceremony, we asked our finalists a few questions about their books, their inspirations, and their favorite way to spend 2 hours and $50 in Chicago.

In Part II, we talk to:

Stay tuned for the announcement of our 2023 Chicago Review of Books Awards winners on December 7!

What is your one sentence elevator pitch of your book?

Laura Adamczyk: A woman thinks she’s losing her mind, so she moves back to her shitty home town and tells the story of her life to a bar of strangers, who probably aren’t listening.

Julia Fine: In 1717 Venice, two fifteen year-old female music students from very different circumstances make increasingly dangerous sacrifices to a mysterious creature in the lagoon that promises to fulfill all their desires.

Juan Martinez: The “official” one-sentence pitch was The Shining in Las Vegas, but my favorite one is “undocumented brother and sister end up in a hotel that eats people.”

Dipika Mukherjee: A grievous vastness to this world, beyond human experience.

Kathleen Rooney: Cracking jokes at the end of this world and looking forward to the start of another.

What is your favorite thing about Chicago and its writing community?

Laura Adamczyk: Familiar faces.

Julia Fine: Chicago writers are generous with their time and advice, and supportive of each other across genre.

Juan Martinez: I love how people show up for each other, and I love how deeply Chicago cares for books.

Dipika Mukherjee: The collegiality! There is such a midwestern friendly vibe and support, and not all literary communities feel like such a group hug!

Kathleen Rooney: Both the city and the writing community are huge and brilliant and humble and welcoming.

If you could choose what book a reader should follow up yours with, what would it be?

Laura Adamczyk: Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker.

Julia Fine: The Passion by Jeannette Winterson.

Juan Martinez: The Strange by Nathan Ballingrud.

Dipika Mukherjee: A God at the Door by Tishani Doshi.

Kathleen Rooney: Oreo by Fran Ross which must be in the top 5 funniest books ever written. More people should read it so we can all talk about it.

What was one non-literature inspiration for your book?

Laura Adamczyk: David Berman.

See Also

Julia Fine: Vivaldi’s Concerto for 2 Violins in A Minor.

Juan Martinez: All of David Lynch’s movies but also Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls.

Dipika Mukherjee: Travel. Lots of it. Then the curbing of travel due to the pandemic and the effect on diasporic families with branches across oceans.

Kathleen Rooney: YouTube comments; everybody there is so heartfelt and funny and weird and alive, reaching out across the ether and trying hard to get a reaction. Same.

You have 2 hours and $50 to spend in the city. Where are you going? 

Laura Adamczyk: Chris’s Billiards.

Julia Fine: Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary with a BLT from Same Day Cafe, a pistachio matcha latte from Drink Happy Thoughts, my headphones, and book.

Juan Martinez: To the Hopleaf for a really good Belgian & to Anteprima for pasta & then to Women & Children First for a book or two.

Dipika Mukherjee: I would buy books at the gorgeous indie bookstore downtown, Exile in Booksville in the stunning Fine Arts building, then walk to the lake past the Buckingham Fountain and find a sunny bench to sit and read and listen to the lake breathing through the whoosh of the waves.

Kathleen Rooney: All 50 dollars get spent at Middle Eastern Grocery in Andersonville on sweet and savory treats, and the we go to Toby Prinz Beach Park in Rogers Park and have a big picnic with all our friends.


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